Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Interview Our Government Doesn't Want Us To See.

Say what you want about the CBC, THIS is the exact kind of stuff with which the CBC earns its keep for us Canadians (and, apparently, pisses off the Federal Government).

Whether or not you agree with Mr. Galloway, you - as a free, tax-paying citizen - deserve the right to make up your own mind about him and his motives for yourself.

I'm told the decision to block him from entering Canada, and calling him a 'Threat to National Security' is 'not a matter of free speech'.

Okay. That's fine.

But why go about making less-than-subtle threats regarding those Canadians that decide to listen to him speak through other means? (since, you know, he can't cross the border).

To get caught up - and understand what's going on, you should read this (Taken from The Hour Blog - written by Brian Corcoran):

George Galloway was interviewed on The Hour last night via satellite. "I wish I was there in person," Galloway said "It's a bit odd isn't it George, I'm sitting here in New York.. but your government seems more concerned with national security issues than the United States of America."

Galloway was barred from entering the country on the basis that he provided financial support to the Palestinian group Hamas, which is banned in Canada.

"I was extremely surprised by the government's decision to ban me," he said. "I sit in the British parliament. I've been elected five times, 23 years. If I was a terrorist, or a security risk, you'd think either the speaker of the House of Commons or the Homeland Security division of the United States would have noticed."

Last week, Galloway had challenged the decision not to let him into in Canada. Galloway's lawyers went before a Federal Court on Sunday to reverse the decision barring him from entering. Galloway's request for an injunction to allow him to enter Canada was turned down by a Federal judge on Monday.

Galloway said countries should have the right to bar some people from entry. "If somebody's coming into your country to stir up racial hatred then a country has a right to keep them out."

"But I'm a democratically elected politician of the left... What conceivable reason can there be to stop me from touring Canada... When did I become a terrorist?"

He added: "This is a minority government. Here today and gone tomorrow. And I hope tomorrow comes quite quickly."

Galloway said he brought wheelchairs, an ambulance, and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, not financial support for Hamas. "As it happens I've never been a supporter of Hamas."

The decision prevented Galloway from appearing in person Monday night on The Hour.

Galloway's lawyers filed papers last Thursday saying the decision to keep him out of the country was a "politically motivated" attack on freedom of expression.

The Canadian government refused entry to Galloway, citing him as a national security threat. According to CBC.ca, Galloway called the decision "irrational, inexplicable and an affront to Canada's good name," and said he would fight the ruling with "all means at my disposal."

Some of you may recall we had George Galloway on the show two seasons ago.

For those of you that aren't familiar with him, I highly recommend watching his previous appearance on The Hour here. What are your thoughts? Is this truly a security concern or is this censorship?
___________________

Okay, I'm back.

So, now that you've read that, you should watch this:
http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/includes/player.php?id=1078694774
(Damn you, CBC, for not having an embeddable media player...)

Followed by this:



Pay particular attention to what is said at 9:55
"And therefore if he uses those other means... if he uses those other means, we will see to it that the Canadian government will be monitoring every individual and organization that will have anything to do with it."

There a whack of things wrong with this whole situation - and, honestly, I don't even know remotely enough (yet) to speak on it properly.

With that said, I'll be doing my own research and I'll be asking my own questions.

And - to my Democratically-elected government - you just opened up your own can of worms. Had you let him come and say his piece, I doubt he'd be getting the same kind of press he is and (from what I've been reading) deserves to be getting.

That said, do your own research on the man and his motives - know that everyone is going to spin it, that's unavoidable. Do your best to see what's really there. I'm already nose-deep in a few rather interesting articles - asking myself the question:

"What's so scary about an open debate?"

When our own government forbids us from having an adult discussion in front of adults about adult topics, then it's time to be worried.

On a side note: Interesting how that old canard about 'protecting the children' rears its ugly head in that BBC video -- Actually, I'm going to side-step a bit further here for a moment and say simply this:

Can we just forget about 'protecting the children', please? How about, instead of being their personal Shield-mates, parents start being the ADULTS and TEACHERS they're supposed to be? Why not teach them proper coping skills? Or teach them empathy? Or... Oh! Oh!

How about if we teach them to ask questions and not accept the first answer they hear because it comes from a grown-up??

Children need to be taught to think for themselves, to form their own opinions - To ask questions and find out their own answers. In order to do that, they need to have the opportunity to hear all sides of the story - or as many as are available. Even if it isn't always pretty, even if they never use or find it - the option should be there. Now, if you as a parent want to co-opt their belief system and decide for them who/what they're supposed to believe, that's your right as a parent. You get to make them learn to love/hate whomever you want.

But if you're going to let that duck fly, you better understand what you're saying - 'cause this whole issue is so not about 'protecting the children'.

It's about keeping grown, tax-paying citizens - ADULTS - from asking questions, demanding answers and making up their own minds.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hey, Good on Us!

So, guess what? Who says we all have to be doom-and-gloom?

Apparently we've actually managed to save the ozone layer!

Way to go guys!

Captain Planet would be proud.



Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pink Eye (50 Days Remaining...)

There's a lot of rage building up over the whole 'Red Eye' thing. A great bit of anger and anguish as to Fox News and their mocking of our military -- Our brave soldiers who've died trying to take down the Taliban (remember them?) and basically do a solid for our American friends by going after the people who are actually (probably) responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

And yet, while I can't help but feel a little steamed under the collar myself, there's something to be said for civility - or as the Christians like to call it: "Turning the other cheek". 'Cause it seems like we could use a touch of that right now.

There've been death threats.

Okay, can we just take a collective breath here, please?

This is a prime example where we get to be the bigger men/women/people - show that we're better than some late-night flunky and his crew. I mean, I'd never even heard of 'Red Eye' until this clip popped up online and now we've got Canadians utterly losing their shit?

No.

Anyone with a functioning brain stem can tell you that their verbal diarrhea was in poor taste - the fact that it blew up and hit home just as we were welcoming back four of our dead is even more unfortunate. 'Cause, otherwise, it probably wouldn't have made as big of a splash as it did.

But you know, Anger really is the easy route here. The fist-pumping, Anti-American rhetoric is what we do best. Hell, it's almost a damned art form with us these days. (Though, to be honest, I can't help but find it all a bit disturbing that we can only have the balls to say 'fuck you we're CANADA' when someone insults our dead... but I digress.)

However, sometimes you have to look past the hurt. Push past the shock of the initial blow.

'Cause these guys ain't worth the spittle and the tears - let alone the free promotion.

With that said, I'd like to see some of that same growling and gnashing of teeth focused and turned toward what just happened to the good ol' CBC today.

In short: "The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. plans to cut up to 800 jobs as part of its strategy to make up for a $171 million shortfall in 2009-10."

Now, I know there's a whole cadre of folks out there hootin' and hollerin' right about now - clinking glasses and muttering 'it's about time'. (There's a nice cross section of them in the comments section of the article).

And yet I wonder if it all might just feel a tad hollow in light of this Fox News debacle - Many, many Canadians standing indignant, defending our dead and sputtering all over the shiny shoes of Fox News as another 800 Canadians find themselves punted out of jobs.

Call me crazy but it seems a bit of an awkward tableau: At one end Canadians standing to defend our soldiers and our way of life while at another end, cheering as another part of it is lopped off at the knees.

Or, as 'kanadiankid' from the CBC article put it:

"na na na na na na na na hey hey hey goodbye

na na na na na na na na hey hey hey goodbye

joy to the world the CBC is done

woohoo"


Now, of course, here be trolls - and this is a classic, classic example of one.

But I can't help but wonder why this doesn't happen to CTV, or, hey: the floundering Canwest Global? I mean, surely they're just as much government-ally (thus tax-payer...ally) funded as the CBC - And Canwest is in the middle of carving a nice little bailout for itself with our tax dollars.

Where's all the ire for that? When did they get exempt?

I dunno. Maybe it's just the CBC's cross to bear, the shameful curse of being 'visibly' funded by our tax dollars and living under a mandate/pinata that politicians of all stripes (yes, Liberals and Conservatives) take joy at bashing.

Again, I'm not sure why, but somehow the knowledge that our hard-earned money is going into that station leaves many of my fellow citizens feeling free to fling their own special kind of verbal shit - smearing it all over and then complaining when things start to stink.

Yet I wonder how many of those same angry folks are aware that we've been subsidizing CTV, Global and friends for years? I wonder if they're aware that the whole shebang runs off of the government coffers in some way, shape or form?

"Nordicity, an independent firm specializing in broadcasting, valued the federal regulations that provide private broadcasters with the right to substitute U.S. content at between $270-million and $330-million. Other provincial and federal government subsidies such as tax credits and the Canadian Television Fund add another $165-million in cash support to the privates. Canada, in short, has a heavily subsidized media industry in which private companies compete for public money, and the CBC, in turn, competes for advertising dollars." - Link swiped from Denis' Blog post "Special pleading and the world of Canuck TV" (which I highly recommend you read).

Maybe - instead of spilling venom and bile on some goofs on a late night talk show that nobody watches - we should be realizing that while the CBC is a fundamental part of the Canadian experience it is no more deserving of our wrath than any of the other 'privately' funded stations our tax dollars have been going to (and have been for a LONG time).

I mean, hey, if you want to spill venom and bile, that's fine - hell, its your money, do what you will - just know that the CBC isn't the only game in town.

And them other guys sure do have some shiny shoes.

Cheers,
Brandon

Saturday, March 21, 2009

BSG Finale: My Reaction

This is going into BSG spoiler territory, specifically, the ending of the show - so if you haven't seen it, please look away... now.

Okay.

And so the end begins again as we see Humanity shrug off it's one true chance to break the cycle once and for all.

You see, I believe what happened in that finale is what happened on Kobol and the original Earth (and however many times it happened in before) - the Humans made it to this wonderful fantastic place after this harsh and hard journey only to give up just when it truly mattered.

What was the lesson of this show as a whole? Responsibility.

Yet, what did the rag tag remnants of Humanity do once they got to Earth? They shrugged it off. They refused to learn the lesson, they refused to take the hard road when it truly mattered.

Aside from tilling the land and breaking their backs what was hard about their choice? They all got to go off and do whatever the hell they wanted. All of the people - the strongest, toughest of them, dropped their burdens and simply disappeared. Selfishly.

They threw their technology into the sun, became luddites and started the cycle all over again.

The lesson was for them to LEARN what they had done wrong, they had to take responsibility for their own destruction at the hands of their creation.

Yet instead of instituting Adama and Baltar and the rest as teachers - those who would help ensure that the children (the ones who actually deserved a fresh start) would not repeat the mistakes of their parents; Instead of using the story of their troubles and their strife to build anew, to recreate themselves - Humanity let out a collective sigh and turned their back, allowing their knowledge and wisdom to fade into the ether of time.

How is that a happy ending?

It's not. But that's also the point. For all the pain and suffering and bullshit Humanity went through, the moment they were given what they wanted - a clean slate - they set in motion the same very means that lead to their own destruction in the first place.

Simply put, they were tired and they were weak. The Final Five (Three) are especially guity of this - hell, they remember almost 2000 years worth of this, they remember specifically the last time this all happened. They, more than anyone, should've been standing on that planet going 'okay, this is what we need to do'.

Lee Adama should've been punched in the face for even mentioning 'going back to the earth' - I mean, what? You want to go 'exploring'? Ummm... What the fuck were you fighting for? The survival of your way of life. And yet the first chance - the first true chance you have to ensure that happens, to ensure your people are raised right - with the hard-fought wisdom earned from a horrible mistake - you turn your back on it.

That, ultimately, is what I will walk away from BSG with: The idea that in spite of all the pain and suffering and utter shit that Humanity survived, when the clock struck midnight we refused to change.

And the cycle remains unbroken.

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, March 20, 2009

This has all happened before and it will all happen again. In Syndication.

This evening we say a solemn good night and good luck to our friends aboard the Battlestar Galactica - for us, the journey comes to what I'm sure will be a bitter-sweet end.

It's been a bit of a harrowing experience for me - not so much watching the final episodes as steering clear of all the spoilers. Everyone's doing press right now, everyone's hugging and singing praises.

And hey, as far as I'm concerned, they're deserved all around. There aren't a whole lot of people who can bring Sci-Fi to a place where it's considered socially relevant enough to be heralded at the United Nations.

Now, say what you want about the U.N. but I think that's a pretty damn cool thing.

Together they sat there and compared the show - events like Starbuck torturing Leoben with a water bucket (in a display not unlike water-boarding, before the term was well-known) - to real life. How horrible acts like this - and more - were going on around the world even at this moment.

Interestingly enough, as horrible as these events are, I'm happy that there's a discussion. I'm happy that a show like Battlestar even got someone's attention, I'm happy that a forum emerged where there wasn't one. Say what you will, I also think that's pretty damn cool.

My favourite part about that UN visit? This little piece from the I09 article (linked above):

"The Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, Robert Orr, admitted that he hasn't talked about terrorism or nuclear armageddon in a social situation since 1982 (although he talks about those issues daily at work). "We don't like to confront these issues in our lives, but they are real," said Orr. "If a show can get us thinking about it and talking about it, then Amen, because it isn't easy."

I don't know how BSG will be remembered, I don't know if it'll leave a lasting mark on the world or society as a whole (tho' I suspect there's been a marked change in Sci-Fi), but I do know that Battlestar made it's bread and butter by taking the hard road and making us ask the real question: "are we even worth saving?"

And that's always been the core of the show for me - that mix of the gritty, utterly Human will to survive versus the cold reality of ensuring that survival. At what point do you trade in your Humanity card for the right to keep breathing another day?

I'm sure Gaius would have a lot to say about that.

The world of Battlestar Galactica is complex, interesting stuff - and I really hope that BSG will be seminal enough to inspire the next iteration of that conversation.

We need that mirror held up to us, the ability to play out scenarios showing us just how far we can go wrong in our quest to keep living; Our quest to make our lives easier. It's important to role to fill - one I think Sci-Fi, at its best, does admirably - to try and see the missteps as they come so that we can endeavour to avoid them.

And that's what a show like Battlestar does. At its very best it transcends the glass and bone between you and knocks directly on your brain. It asks you to make connections and do the math and say 'so, if this... then... what?'.

Better yet, it leaves it up to you to decide what is right and what is wrong.

On top of that, it's entertaining and absolutely gripping drama.

Yeah man, sign me up.

Of course none of this journey would even be possible without having our guides, our analogues - people we trust to take us through this world.

And, truly, I'll miss them the most. The Adama's (Bill and Lee), Tigh, Kara, Baltar, President Roslin, Boomer, Chief, Cally, Helo, Doc Cottle, Caprica Six... man, I could go on all night.

Heh, I remember the first day I heard about the Battlestar Remake. How Starbuck was going to be a GIRL! (OMG the ruuuined it!) I'll admit that I was never a fan of the original series - and yes, I've seen a good number of episodes - but I knew, deep in my heart, it was going to suck. Don't ask me why (I call it cynicism!) but I just knew.

And then I saw the TV spots. And then I took a chance and watched the miniseries. I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to sit down and give up an hour of my time to watch '33'... and I was hooked.

If you've never seen the miniseries (or couldn't make it through), go watch '33'. It's tense, riveting stuff - the beginning of a journey that is monolithic and overwhelming at best. That they even survived to the point where they were discussing politics and Human rights, let alone trying to piece things back together, is astounding when you watch the first season.

Even moreso when you take in the entirety of those five seasons, to watch these characters go from doomed to fine and back again. To understand that at every step they have been the arbiters of their salvation and damnation - that the real enemy has been coiled around their hearts since the first nuke dropped on Caprica City.

It's intense.

And yet, in spite of it all, the journey has lead them here - to a final confrontation.

It all ends tonight folks. It's going to be bloody, it's going to be brutal and I'll be riveted every last second.

If you can make it out, drop by here and watch it with us.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We all celebrate in our own way

Happy St. Patty's day all!

Let's celebrate with a wee touch o' tha Irish


Hi there Jennifer Aniston! (wow, she looks so young!) Also: I loved this movie and another one called Critters when I was a kid.


Best Plot ever! (From IMDB): On his 1000th birthday, a mean Leprechaun gets to choose a bride by making her sneeze three times, then she's his. SOLD!


At a total rating of 4.3 this is the highest rated movie of the series. The original clocks in at respecta--... dece--... Uh, yeah, it got a 4.1.


There's a dude in here that I thought was Christian Bale at first. Also, a young Sly Stallone-ish look-alike. Oh, and Leprechaun learns how to be a giant. In Space.


Okay, can I just say I love how cheerful the narrator sounds? Trying to sell a gritty, dark gangsta horror flick? Get White-y McWhitensen to do the full-court press. Brilliant move on the Marketing team's part. Also: I hope Mr. Ice-T was well-compensated for his appearance.

So, yeah... You're welcome ;)

On the bright side: Man! Movie trailers have come a long, long way!

Oh, and just because you didn't ask for it:


Don't ask me why this is considered a Red Band-worthy trailer...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Read The Wrapper, Doofus (62 Days Remaining)

So, with a wedding coming up I've been working extra hard to drop some of the college weight I've had ever since puberty. If I'm gonna look good in a tux (the only tux I'll probably ever wear) I'm gonna look damn good in a tux.

To that end I've been hitting the gym like a mofo, taking the stairs where I can, eating less and generally doing my damnedest to build muscle to burn fat. (Which, as I'm told, is the best way to do it 'cause "Then you're burning fat even when you're not at the gym!!"... sure.)

In short: I've been a good boy. Haven't had a bag of chips in a good long time, my candy consumption is WAY down and I'm actually starting to feel the effects of beer in small quantities (which is kinda new to me - and a nice turn for my wallet...).

But today I decided to cheat. I haven't had a cheat day in a while, I figured I'd have a candy bar.

One.

Before I continue, I want to get something off my chest:

Fuck you Nestlé.

Fuck you in your Haute-Couture-Coffee-Crisp-Making Ear.

Right, where were we? Oh yes.

So, I spend my dollar, drop it into the vending machine - I opt for the "Coffee Crisp Chocolatey Crunch" chocolate bar. It's NEW. It's got everything I like: It's a Coffee Crisp, it's got Chocolate and it's got CRUNCH.

Fuck, sign me up.

I can practically feel my pupils dilating inside my skull.

A solid thud as it drops into the bin below. A solid, chocolate-y thud. A solid, chocolate-y thud that whispers to me in that smooth Barry Manilow voice "Yeeeeaaaah baaaaaybeeeeee".

I pick it up, preparing to unwrap my prize, damn near drooling on the floor - anticipating the sweet taste of chocolate victory. And then I hear that small, nasal, annoying voice in the back of my head - that lil' bugger that's been making more and more of an appearance lately. That lil' taped-glasses, thin-lipped, scrawny version of myself that goes 'uh-uh-uh!' and wags his finger whenever temptation rears its ugly head.

Bastard!

So I flip the bar over... and I damn-near burst into tears.

Now, Saturated Fat is a funny thing - it's tasty stuff... but apparently it kills you (over time, like so many other tasty things).

How bad is this gunk for you?

Well, lets put it this way: out of a 2000 calorie-a-day diet - which most places just assume you're eating, "normal" for an "average" male... not so much for the "average" female - 20 grams of Saturated Fat is your 'Daily Value'.

That's the MOST you should eat in a day. Obviously if you're supposed to be eating less than 2000 calories a day, you should be eating less than 20 grams of Saturated Fat.

I'm not sure why 20 grams was chosen, I'm sure the information is out there, but that's not my point.

My point is that of this 49 gram chocolate bar, this tempting little chocolate bar that rests so lightly in the palm of my hand, 13 grams is pure Saturated Fat.

Think about that for a second.

This little chocolate bar that an earlier version of myself wouldn't have thought twice about eating - let alone eating 2 or 3 in a day - is worth 64% of my daily Saturated Fat intake. Per bar.

That's not including the 2 boiled eggs I had for breakfast today (3 grams of saturated fat - or 16%). That's not including lunch proper, the various small snacks and the dinner I'm going to have tonight.

And I bought this thing for a dollar, on a whim, because it caught my eye. The less careful version of myself would've eaten that thing in under a minute and forgotten about it in an hour. Maybe picked up another one on my way home 'cause, hell, I bet it's probably quite tasty.

Then I might've grabbed a slice of pizza on the run for dinner... Or a Hamburger. Maybe some fries.

See, I get it; I made a bad choice, I threw away a buck - that's my bad. But what about all those people who don't know, don't understand or don't care?

For most of us, all we'll ever see is this:

(Picture borrowed from a flickr stream brought up on a Google search)

Most of us will only ever see the warm, inviting, Coffee Crisp logo and the EXPLODING Chocolatey CRUNCH (in both English and French!) and, maybe, the tiny reassuring words: "Makes a nice light snack".

To Nestle's credit, if you flip the bar over, underneath the Nutritional facts chart and the barcode - in a 3-point font on a yellow background - the message "Your good health comes from a balanced diet, proper nutrition and physical activity" is written. Beside it, their contact information.

That is, of course, if you'd bothered to take the time to read it. If you hadn't just scarfed the bar and dropped the wrapper in the waste bin.

Interesting side note: They take great pains to put a nice little blue triangle on the front of the package that exclaims "ALLERGY ALERT contains peanuts". Apparently the threat of you immediately dropping into anaphylactic shock with this bar in your hands is enough of a cause for worry that they'd throw that warning right up on the bottom Left-hand corner of the product. No mention of the 64% of your daily Saturated Fat intake - tho' I guess that could be considered counter-productive to their business model.

What kills me is www.nestle.ca and their Nutritional Compass. Call me a hungry cynic but I can't help thinking that this is a classic case of something called "covering your ass".

Anyways, what can you do? A company's gotta make money and all the onus is on us to keep ourselves educated about what's going inside our bodies (something that is fucking hard to do on a day to day basis...).

Frankly, they make their bread and butter off of what I just did today: I got distracted by flashy packaging and spent the buck. Had I've known the nutritional information first, I'd have never made that purchase. Never. But that's not their problem (legally, I mean, and that's all that matters).

They warn you on the back of the package in miniscule print to eat right and exercise so you better damn well do it and don't come crying to them if you enjoy their product and eat yourself into a coronary. It's all right there on their website.

But, hey, at least it's got no Trans-Fat, right?

Anyone who's known me for the last 5 or so years knows that it's taken me a good, long time to work my way down from the 250-ish pounds I used to be (ask me nicely and I'll show you the pic sometime...) yet it's only been in the last few years that I really understood how I got there. And it's shit like this, shitty decisions like this, that've made it such a struggle.

So, consider this my good deed for the day. A bit of vitriol from a weight-challenged guy with a sedentary day job and a goal of fitting into a tux that won't make him look like a defective sausage casing.

Take it for what it cost ya.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S: I haven't eaten it, still sitting here on my desk. No snack. Should've taken that buck and bought a bag of apples.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bunk Buddies! (63 days remaining)

So it looks like the CTF and the New Media Fund are going to be sharing a room soon - being given bunk beds and re-branded as 'The Canadian Media Fund'. This alone has people's hackles raised (the CTF was already under strain as it was) but adding in that in-house productions can apply for funding... well, I can see things getting a tad harrowing for those independant producers who struggled to get funding in the first place. It's bad enough when you're competing against your peers, it's a whole other kettle of fish when you're competing against CTV and friends (with their sure-to-be standing army of unpaid interns filling out CTF application documents).

From what I'm hearing there's going to be a new independant board of individuals who'll decide who gets funding and who doesn't. I've also heard that 5 of the members of the board will be put there by the funders themselves with 2 appointees from the government. Not sure how solid that is yet, but I hope they actually have some directors, producers or writers on there.

As it stands right now, there still seems to be a whole lot of construction going on around this thing and, truthfully, I'm not really sure what the solution here is - hell, I'm not entirely sure what the ramifications of all this will be. One thing I can tell you is that it seems destined to get even messier than it was before.

In other news...

I'm on Act 3 of my spec pilot - no, not THAT spec pilot - the other one. Right now I'm just connecting to that one more I guess, it's prodding my mind in ways that I haven't felt in a good ol' while.

Been reading Lagos Egri's book "Art of Dramatic Writing" and frankly, it's been a bit of a trip. Right off the bat it's been helping me to wrap my head around things like Premise and Character - a lot of it seems very common sense (except for the parts that don't...). So far the one thing that really kind of hit me is that I don't feel for my main character - I like the idea of her, I like the idea of what my story's about, but I haven't made a connection to it all - haven't found that one integral spark that makes it MY vision. Something that'll drive me to want to write 20-30 episodes (let alone tell one really, really kickass tale).

And so I'm working on something else for the moment - percolating on that one (lots and lots of percolating...). Not giving up in the least, just... taking stock... adding onions.

Simmering.

I'll give it a taste later... maybe add some salt.

Or pepper. Everyone seems to love pepper.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let the Countdown begin... Again! (65 Days remaining...)

Alright, here we go again. CFC application time.

65 days. 2 scripts - 1 spec, 1 pilot - and an already loaded plate.

The difference between this application process and my first is this: I'm getting married - working on getting that show on the road as well. And, well, seeing as we're not ones to wait around, we're shooting for something June-ish... of this year. Yeah, sure, we could put it off, wait a year or two... but no. That's just not how we operate. Once the decision's made, no sense in waiting around. There's a whole list of things we want to do together and 'getting married' is landing on 'Go' (And yes, I'd love to collect my $200, thanks...).

So, yeah, that keeps things interesting. Totally my own bed to make and/or screw up horribly, but hey, that's the kind of stuff that makes life fun, right?

On the bright side, this last year's helped me to focus a lot - helped me to start to understand what kind of writer I am; where I'm going to fit in the grand scheme of things. Of course it's all open to interpretation and tectonic shift and whatnot... but for now, it's still more of a bird's eye view than I've had.

Right now I'm on page 5 of my spec pilot 1st draft - figured I'd try to get that one done first as I'm really sensing that this is going to be the tougher mission of the two. Not sure what I'm going to spec yet - trying to decide on a drama or a comedy. Maybe a Chuck or a House... I dunno. Pulling a decent House spec out of my ass in under a month would be a feat in and of itself -- hrmm might be worth the challenge.

I'm still considering, still mulling on that end of things.

Been trying to think of which shows are on right now that I really connect with... and really, there aren't that many. With Battlestar Galactica coming to a close and House, well, feeling a bit creaky these days - I'm not sure what I'm feeling spec-wise. Elize has highly recommended Burn Notice for my viewing pleasure, I'm going to sit down and try to watch it - see if it's a fit for me. Was also thinking about doing a Friday Night Lights... that's another one I'll have to get caught up on though.

Anyways, 65 days. If I can pull 5 pages a day out of the 3 or 4 hours per day I actually get to write (2 in the morning, 2 at night), I should hopefully be able to get both scripts out in a month and leave me a month to do 2nd drafts, etc. How realistic is 5 pages in 4 hours a day? Well, it's possible... fingers crossed. Just hope it all adds up in the end.

Speaking of adding up, just did my taxes for the year. My refund is hella smaller than I figured it'd be. Definitely a bummer. Anyways, on another note - for my fellow Canadians who're prepping to do their own taxes this year - I'm gonna shill a bit for a free program called Studio Tax. I did my taxes with it last year and this year. It does a great job and is pretty user friendly - all you need to do is fill in the numbered boxes from your T4, etc. into the program and let it do the rest. Heck, it'll even netfile the whole shebang for you afterwards. Worth a checkout at the very least. Figured it might save y'all $40 or so (if you were going to buy one of them quicktax programs, etc.).

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Quick Update

Politics Time Again!

http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/canada/article/191163

Our Glorious Leader PM Harper and Co want to give out $3 Billion dollars of your money. Says it'll stimulate the economy and 'infrastructure projects' or some junk. Sure thing. 'Economy' needs 'stimulating'. 'Infrastructures' need 'projects'.

Makes sense.

One little problem: The Opposition asked them - in a full and throaty voice I've no doubt - what they were going to spend it on.

Seems like a reasonable request. If you're going to give 3 Billion dollars of tax payer money, asking what you're going to do with it just makes sense. It's good business.

Apparently not.

Faces tense and anuses pucker as Harper throws a tantrum. Apparently the simple, defiant act of asking what he's spending 3 Billion Dollars on in the middle of an economic calamity is an out-and-out Confidence issue.

Uh... what?

Excuse me? Hi. Quick question from the back here: Isn't this the same kind of bullying tactic our PM's always used? Isn't this the same tactic that nearly backfired the last time?

And our Prime Minister's standing there saying that the Liberals are "Playing Politics"? Ummm... no. Actually, you are, Mr. Harper. And I'm sorry but you can't just threaten to take your toys and go home every damn time you don't want to interact with the real world.

So... yeah.

Apparently him telling us what he's going to spend the money on BEFORE he spends it is none of our fucking business, thank-you-very-much.

Guess it's easier to apologize than ask for permission, right?

Good on you Harper, kick us when we're down - it's none of our concern what our government is doing - we'll just be over here, you let us know when it's safe to look.

Ok? Thanks.

Asshole.

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

So you say you want a Revolution

It's not easy bein' cheesy - I know. I get it.

The masses aren't parking their butts in front of their TVs anymore - the true family experiences of the past are gone. Hell, I used to sit around with my family and watch Little HOUSE on the Prairie (man, what a show that'd be if you mixed the current equivalent... House works at a Mosque?? Hrrmmm.) Alas, those days are over.

What's left of the gravy on the train has long ago cracked with age and blown away in the winds of change.

So what do you do?

Well, pick up your pad of paper - take some notes, I'm feeling in a giving mood today and all it's going to cost you is actually getting down to fixing the problems. Seriously, I'm happy to watch content with commercials online - as long as what's there is worth my time.

Okay folks, we're going on a field trip. Ready?

Open a new Tab (and yes, if your browser doesn't have TABS then that may be a bit of a litmus test for your/your company's approach to the Web...) and browse your way over to watch.ctv.ca

Open another Tab and browse your way over to www.globaltv.com/globaltv/video/index.html

Take a moment, explore around a bit. Get a good idea in your head of what each site is about. What they're trying to DO.

What does each one do right, what does each do wrong? Flip back and forth between them, play around, which one FEELS right. Watch the video, experiment with the player, how easy is it to understand? Go full screen - can you find where the option to go full-screen is? Is the video the kind of quality that you'd be willing to watch for 30 - 60 minutes?

Take a moment, think about it. Think about how you watch video online.

Want to know how I watch video on the web?

During the week, it's primarily my lunch break. That's when you've (potentially) got me for a full hour - it's also the time when I'm not feeling pressured to watch all the stuff I've got crammed into my PVR. I'm looking to relax, I'm looking for something interesting to occupy my time.

I'm looking for a new show. Maybe.

If you can grab my attention and make me want to check it out.

See, the era of just throwing shit up on the web - and hoping someone will trip over it and watch it - is over. People just don't have the time or inclination anymore. Hell, I can't even count how many days I've spent surfing Youtube for an hour 'cause there's nothing on online. Because no one told me what I could be watching if I just popped on over to their site.

Let me tell you what I like about Global's approach: Very little. What they get right is that you click on a show, click on a segment and get to it. It's barebones, the video quality is pure 2002 and there's nothing else to do. Watch the show and go away. That's what their setup tells me. Not to mention that I utterly despise their 'sharing' routine. It's assinine and it actually makes me kind of angry that that's what passes for sharing content in 2009 -- we're knee deep in the information age here people. At least have the clip's direct link load in the address bar so that I can copy and paste from there.

Of course this'd work better if your links weren't close to 100 characters long: http://canwest.a.mms.mavenapps.net/mms/rt/1/site/canwest-canwestglobal-pub01-live/current/launch.html?maven_playerId=globalvideocenter&maven_referralParentPlaylistId=9cc6b450a623dac392329a6ffd58c236d3cec38a&maven_referralPlaylistId=7e38250007c9a8fc4170553c693f556c3c790f0f&maven_referralObject=3732987 (BTW, that's the link to Da Kink In My Hair Episode 2-03). Personally, Global, I think you owe the 'Da Kink In My Hair' people an apology 'cause you're certainly not doing them a whole lot of favours having it up there like that.

Hell, you're not doing yourself any favours - you're pissing in your revenue stream. This (and other shows) should be something promoted, used to drive traffic to your site instead of shunted off to the kitchen while everyone's partying in the dining room. It's potential money that you're squandering and hey, even pennies are pennies.

CTV does things a tad better all around. They're still lacking in some serious areas - mostly in direction. Again, offering little to no reason for me to actually kick around on the site after I've gotten my fix. But what do they do right? First, let's go see a show... say... Flashpoint. Here's the direct link to Episode 2-05: http://watch.ctv.ca/#clip143697

Now, my point here isn't that I'm going to type out each link by hand - far from it - my point is that it goes to the mentality of those working behind the scenes. Those who throw shit up and leave it to rot versus those who encourage everything to be as simple and streamlined as possible - those commited to making viewing video on the web EASIER than watching it on TV.

Videos on CTV.ca are easy to find and there's a host of 'featured' items designed to try and pull me in - Personally I have no interest in watching Paris Hilton's Best Friend, or why it's considered a 'Feature' but hey, points for trying.

What CTV does very well is allow you to create and save your own playlist ala YouTube. It's a simple feature but important. I'm not always able to watch everything in one go. I can load up my shows for the week, pop on, watch what I can, put it aside, come back tomorrow and pick up almost exactly where I left off. I don't have to hunt for videos, I don't have to waste precious lunch time. Good on them. There's thought involved there, THAT's what I'm looking for. Commercials are short and sparse and don't bother me all too much. Fine. Good.

So, how can you make it better? Pens to paper people: Live content. I'm not talking new video - I'm talking live promotions on the side - optional chat windows where people can interact as shows are being watched. Watch an episode of Heroes live, streaming on the site and share in the bashing of a once great show with friends.

And before you start complaining about time and cost - it's a goddamn chat applet. That's easy. Your guys/grrls can do that in a heartbeat with one crooked, carpal-tunnelled hand tied behind their back.

All it takes is want. And a bit of thought.

Hell man, this is just the tip of the iceberg -- and if I can come up with a list of 23 different things you can do to make yourselves competitive and flourishing (on my spare time between planning a wedding and writing a CFC application) then you should be able to do it in a heartbeat.

Bring your A game and people will show up. And if you can't figure out how to make money from having more people show up to your website then... well, then you need to get out onto the web more.

In closing: Global, seriously man, get with the end of the 1st decade of the new millennium.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Right.

So, I've been a bit of a self-involved wuss lately. I admit it. There's a whole world of hurt going on around me and I've been navel-gazing and boo-hooing about the state of my current spec pilot.

Truth is, I'll get it when I get it and all the sitting around and complaining isn't doing me any good - separating myself from the world at large to moan about how hard it is. Right.

Anyways, I want to thank Peter and Elize who put up with me and offered their sage advice - also Karen and Denis who pointed me in the way of a solution (and kicked my butt for trying to take the shortcut). I'm reading "Making a Good Script Great" by Linda Seger and taking a break - letting the QWERTY bruises on my forehead heal.

I've got a ton to catch up on - barely even noticed what's been going on at the CRTC so that'll be fun to wrap my head around. On the bright side, Karen and Chausie Lynx have been working away to keep people on the up and up, summarizing what's been going on and helping to get a sense of the bigger picture.

You can read their first thread here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2312266656&topic=8056

And their second thread here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2312266656&topic=8152

Most of the discussion has moved on to Twitter these days and that's fine but it's kind of a pain too. Hard to keep abreast of the conversation and still glean a lot of insight out of the maximum 140 characters. The updates are great, how it happened is great, but I'm far more interested in how it effects people - what they have to say about how it impacts them.

Micro-blogging is a funny thing like that - you're either plugged in or you're not, it can be a bit of a pain to catch up if you're not already in the flow with people. Recently I had to un-follow Huffington Post from Twitter because they simply drowned out everyone else. Like that guy singing out from under his blaring headphones on the bus or the street corner - even if he's damn good, he's still drowning out everyone else who's trying to listen to what's being said to them. Sorry Huff-post but it's hard enough to keep abreast of what my friends are doing as it is.

In other news, I've got another Inktern assignment about to go live, so that should be fun. I scoured the major player's sites trying to figure out who has the best assortment of ONLINE content for Canadian shows. The winner, suprisingly enough, was -- well, I won't give it away but you can check out the thread here and see for yourself.

Cheers,
Brandon